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AOL May Open Instant Messaging To Other Servers 157

Brento writes "MSN is reporting that 'AOL said that it's almost done developing the technology that would allow its messaging services to operate with those offered by other industry players.' The article is light on details, but it sounds like they're going to offer interoperability directly with other servers -- not allow users to log in with new clients. 'It expects to complete an agreement with a leading technology company to conduct a live test between two different servers later this summer.' That would mean good news for competing services like MSN, but it would mean we might have to set up our own Jabber servers to really get the level of service we want."

Of course, since other projects have demonstrated they can do the same things that AIM does, and AOL has repeatedly shut them out of its IM network, it's interesting to see a sudden interest in "interoperability."

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AOL May Open Instant Messaging To Other Servers

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    My neice may stop installing multiple distinct chat clients every time she visits us. Apparantley her peep cloud cant settle on a single client.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Have we all forgotten?

    Dude, this is Slashdot. You must be mistaking it for a web site where the editors are actaully informed about anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here's a little more detail from The Standard:

    Has AOL Gotten the Message?

    A year ago, getting instant-messaging systems to talk to one another
    was a red-hot topic. Yesterday AOL filed a mandated report with the
    FCC, detailing its progress toward opening up its IM to others - and
    the press barely noticed.

    AOL has been the king of the IM mountain since it invented the service
    years ago. The company has always been zealous about keeping other IM
    systems from working with its own. Last year a coalition of companies
    including Microsoft lobbied hard to get the FCC to force AOL to open
    up its messaging community to others, as a condition of approving the
    AOL-Time Warner merger. At the time, AOL told the agency, "Don't push
    us, we're goin'." In the end, the FCC didn't mandate IM
    interoperability; it merely required AOL to file reports every six
    months on its progress toward that goal.

    CNET's Jim Hu filed a solid backgrounder on the IM wars, noting how
    much the landscape has changed since those FCC hearings. "Critics that
    lobbied to force AOL's cooperation are now increasingly staking out
    their own independent territories," Hu wrote, pointing to Yahoo's
    recent introduction of a videoconferencing feature in Yahoo Messenger,
    and Microsoft's plan to bundle its IM client with the upcoming Windows

    The Washington Post's Alec Klein reported that AOL's 11-page filing
    was short on details - it "did not say when AOL would actually open
    its system to rivals" - and long on carping about how technically
    difficult it will be to achieve interoperability. Pity the poor media
    behemoth's programming woes. - Keith Dawson
  • I run my own Jabber server, instead of using, and other than getting it set up, I've had 0 problems with downtime... the period where ICQ was down for a week, mine was still working fine.

    The whole point of Jabber is that it's not meant to be centralized. and are there more as *examples*, they're not meant for any real heavy use, other than being there as a convenience. The Jabber protocol is designed so that just like e-mail servers, every network provider (or user, if they so wish) has their own Jabber server, and they can all interoperate.

    The instability is just a specific server's problem, not a jabber problem. =)

  • by Ranger Rick ( 197 ) <<slashdot> <at> <>> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:38PM (#63968) Homepage
    I already can. I set up a Jabber [] server with AIM, MSN, ICQ, and Yahoo support. When I log on I can get messages from any of the services in a single client right now. Jabber rules!
  • it would mean we might have to set up our own Jabber servers to really get the level of service we want.

    So let me get this straight - you're complaining that to get full control over how you use IM, you have to set up your own IM server, while if you use one graciously provided by someone else, you have to play by their rules. What's the problem with that? I don't see why you have some sort of god-given right to use AOL's servers. The only legitimate complaint I see is that AIM already has a huge market share, which makes entry into the field have a high barrier, but if they're going to interoperate with other servers, that removes that argument - all you have to do to use IM how you want is to run the server yourself, rather than leeching off theirs.
  • I simply do not like Jabber. Not one bit.
    It hasn't even really hit primetime and it's already, in my oppinion, ruining itself.

    I think it is based on a bad idea: basing everything on XML. Yes it is a tradeoff between interoperability and complexity, but I think they chose the wrong one. And yes, I have read all of their explanations, it just doesn't convince me.

    This gives me a veyr bad feeling about Jabber, but it's not the only thing. I've been following the Jabber developent since they first went public with their plans to create it years ago. Soon after they started working on it I got a bad vibe from it, and that has only gotten worse.

    For one thing, simply looking at the amount of time it took them to release something bodes very badly. What they were seeking to do was NOT that hard and could have reasonably been released in a month of good coding. It was what, over a year and probably closer to two before they released something usable.

    They put too much intelligence into the server. They had a basically flawed model, and though it was implemented well it's just a waste of developer time.

    It makes me sick to hear about Jabber, and to hear of it as being a great messaging anything. It's a bad project that I wish would have collapsed.

    That's my rant on that :)
  • Primarily becouse AOL doesn't 'notice' the connections, as they do with Jabber. Since the servers are the gateways in Jabber, when the servers get blocked, that transport is useless.

    Not a better nor worse design then Trillian, just different. It is not connecting 'incorrectly' to AIM, it's simply becouse blocked by their servers due to its IP. Don't spread FUD for the sake of apperent dislike of a design decision, you just look foolish.

    And Trillain is not server based, and hence, not just 'anyone' can setup a server. Jabber supporting something is as easy as adding a transport, with no changes required by the client. Trillian, on the other hand, requires ever single client be updated to support something new, becouse, in the end, it's justa glorified IRC client with plugins for the interface..
  • They are using the software. They paid a company, who in turn, furthers open soruce development..

    You've watched the movie AntiTrust ONE to many times.. 8-P
  • But they can't, becouse Trillian is simply an overglorified IRC client with DLL plugins to talk to the other IM systems, just like any other IM clone on the face of the earth..

    There is no new server technology, no new ideas, and most importantly, no way for anyone else to run a server, and open up their own IM server, which can talk to other systems as well..
  • Yes, Gabber is probrably the most 'feature rich' of the clients on *nix. Jarl is nice, but yer right, a bit heavy on the startup side.. 8-P

    So, I'd say, jot something to the foundation, and mention it. Put something up on asking why this is so.. 8-P

    It's great to actually be heard..
  • Well, I hate to disagree, but I must on *ONE* little point. The @sign does mean something in Microsofts systems.. 8-P

    As an example, you can setup your own local MSIM system, and have it correctly resolve, thru MS Exchange server..

    Ok, so only a LITTLE notch up from AOL, but non the less.. 8-P
  • Actually, it currently uses SRV records first.. 8-P I'm well aware of what it means, thats why I posted it..
  • Then you haven't checked for a long time..

    Heck, ICQ now has migrated to the OSCAR protocol used by AIM..
  • OOhh, you mean big boys like, say Disney? id =994825514
  • Actually, Jabber alraedy has a conformant reference transport, we're ready to rock within a week.
  • Also interesting that it's apparently a 'closed club'. 8-P
  • Thats becouse we took the time to write, rewrite, throwaway, rewrite some more. It takes alot of time to do that correctly. It started as an experiment. It has gone thru several incarnations to what it is currently.

    You go write it in a month. Put your skills where your mouth is. Heck, we might even rewrite again if your models good enough.. 8-P
  • This is due to the fact that the other IM players consistently block the IPs that the transporst are run from, and hence, they are only up between the time it's moved to a new IP, and the time they figure it out and block that IP. j.o. entire Class C is now banned.. 8-P
  • Jabber does NOT require you have accounts with every other service. Jabber is actually one of the only services besides Microsoft that can actually support the capability right now to deal with external IM systems.

    Jabber is not a client, it's an XML messaging architecture that JabberIm is built on. It named based on DNS, and essentially has it's namespace scope limited only by name resolution.
  • The interesting thing is, of all of the IM systems, Jabber, I can promise, will be the first one to support external access to AIM. It is one of only two IM systems that I know of that has the capability of addressing 'external' namespace out of the box.

    If it is also based on the psuedo protocol put forth by the Open IM group, it will be in Jabber within the hour. 8-P

    Jabber is entirely based on the idea of, implement it the right way. By doing this, it accepts the idea that other speak other languages to talk to 'things'. Open namespaces allow nearly any 'node' on the network to really be anything. A client, an 'adapter' (Transport), or heck, even a toaster..
  • Yes, that would be nice, and perhaps, in the future, this will be the case. With larger name backers, like Disneys !Go network, this will happpen..

    And yes, the !Go Messenger is, you guessed it, Jabber.. 8-P
  • This means that the scope of the addresses isn't 1 simple list. It means it has two 'layers', entity@domain. The only limitation to a use rlist is that the entity must be unique within a domain. This is very simular to how email works..

    Within AOLs AIM, there is only 1 'user' list, and no way to actually specify that something is actually an external, NON AIM entity..
  • True, there aren't so many jabber clients available under *inux, becouse many of the developers actually use Gnome, but great news..

    *ANYONE* can write one. Several have halfway started some of their owns, but never really gotten one production ready..

    Don't write it off becouse of it's lack of a client you like. It's jsut now maturing.. 8-P Check our Jarl if you want an alertantive.
  • But you might use their mail server. In the case of Jabber, it's a nice, open, XML based protocol, with several clients out there that are pretty darned good. Even Disney is using it for their !Go Messenger system.
  • And while we're at it, we'll just go back to using gopher instead of HTTP. I mean after all, you could just..

    Yes, I'm joking.. SMTP, while capable of doing IM, isn't really built for it. The setup and breakdown on connections required for mail deleivery would kill a large scale IM system..
  • Well, when one makes so little good decisions, I always find it important to give positive reinforcement with the actualy GOOD ones they have.. 8-P

    'Come little Microsoft, let me show you the way.. Why yes, thats a WONDERFUL butterfly..'
  • Really now?

    I'd love for you to show me the TOC protocol itself? If AOL 'encourages' it's use, where is it?

    And tell me, do you also have access to the AIM chatrooms? If you look carefully, you'll notice that TOC maintains it's own, baren, featureless chatrooms.

    TOC exists as their test clients 'failover' protocol, and often messages send on it are lost or dropped, servers timeout, change, etc, and your rosters will disappear.

    Show me SOMETHING from AOL that recomends TOC as an external interface to the AIM system..

    And I'd also put money on the fact that, if enough people actually used TOC, the servers and protocol used would simply vanish into thin air..
  • Funny, I do the same thing.. And becouse Jabber is based on DNS, I host my own jabber servers, to.. 8-P

    Anyway, the point is, an open, free to implement system based on a good, open namespace, wins every time.. And the only system out there that can do this currently IS Jabber..
  • You where doing it on such a small scale, that they haven't noticed and decided it's finally time to shut down that legacy based, unsupported system known as TOC.

    The only reason they still support TOC is due to it's use by certain larger partners, that incorperate AIM capabilities for a fee. Trust me. Get enough users, and enough publicity, and you'll see those TOC servers thrown onto a VPN and out from under your feet so fast, you won;t have time to cusion your arse from the code, hard ground..
  • I'm one of the individuals who has, on and off, been working with the rest of the crew to put in time and effort to get it off the ground, and a good system. Many of us here are. You wanna know who I am? I'm the type of person this affects. Other have put in even more time and effort then I have.. (Ok, all I did was occasionally beat a drum on and off for the last few years), but the point is this.

    We're the ones making the systems you'll use tommorow..
  • Well, beyond that, they can send messages to any other JID. The domains of a JID can and DO implement things other then users accounts..

    Imagine being able to subscribe to a mailing list that didn't require you to send a mail to do it, but gave you a dynamic form?

    How about a stock ticker interface that you could dynamically monitor..

    With a Jabber account, you have access to any service Jabber can provide. In some cases, external gateways to other IM systems, ones that don;t require a login to their local namespace, but will trust the servers..
  • Yep, thats the protocol spec that AOL had posted over 2 years ago now, which was gleefully ripped off of their web site once the higher ups figured out what was going on.

    That same protocol will also be gleefully ripped from the servers, and any services based on the protocol are whats going to be 'dicked'.

    And the chatrooms themselves aren't linked to any of the other chatrooms for a reason. As an example, try using AIM, then a TOC based client. You will not see eachothers rooms. The TOC system has it's own set of chatrooms, etc..

    TOC is only still around becouse of the AIM Express client, which uses it..
  • As for your first point, Jabber does exactly that. It uses DNS name resolution for the server scope. It even queries off of the SRV records, so you can setup your server just like email..

    As for your second, regarding the use of SMTP for IM, a direct connection between clients would have several limiting factors, beyond the fact that bloat would now be required in the SMTP protocol itself.

    A) Giving our your IP like handy snacks is a bad thing

    B) Firewalls. Bleh. No incomming connections there. Granted, could fallback to s2s via the SMTP Server.

    Basically, one could go on, but SMTP is 'Simple Mail Transport Protocol'. EMail is different from email, any way you say it. Sure, anything could be made to do anything. SMTP could be used more easily, but it wasn't built for it..

    Generalized tools for a more specific purpose due to job well. Generalized tools used to generalize everything just won't work..
  • I'm not sure if you EVER looked at it, but it's a list of requirements for a protocol, NOT A PROTOCOL itself. IMPP does not exist as a protocol, only the requirements that it should meet. Several protocols where proposed via RFCs submitted, but non actually accepted, and utter chaos to this day.
  • Err, thats due to the use of JabberCOM, and the fact that, it's very hard to use connection points in a Visual C++, etc, application. But saying 'they can't offer a client besides Delphi of VB' is silly. Anyone who cares to can go ahead and implement one. Even if using VisualC++, by using the existing JabberOO package.

    I have NEVER heard of a system being questions becouse of the languages that the end client developers choose to use.

    If you want a smaller client, then write one. The clients are NOT that big, unless your comparing them to notepad.. Currently, I'm running WinJab, and it's total memory footprint is 4 Megs. Little big, sure. Could it be smaller? Heck ya, but it's not that bad compared to ICQ, etc, and is most certainly on par with what it takes.
  • by Thomas Charron ( 1485 ) <> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @01:10PM (#64000) Homepage
    Disney paid for's server and support. They also assisted in a stress test to well over a 100k simo connected users..
  • Thats the point. The Jabber protocol itself doesn't care. The external systems care, with the exception of MSIM, which, if opened up more, can allow this as well. In the case of MSIM, it does do name resolution, and you CAN setup your own MSIM servers, and NOT have an account on MSIM, but be running off of your own exchange server..

    Look it up..

    And Thats exactly what my jabber roster looks like:

    And anyone can set these up. If AIM or yahoo allowed us to talk direct, we could just as easily be The only reason for our naming being slightly different, is we need to be able to resolve to a transport.

    Depending on the server, as with my home server, transports can be given simple names, such as aim, icq, etc..:


    Check out
  • That is becouse currently, none of the external systems have allowed any OTHER external systems to exist as a seperate, connected entity. In the case of a truely open server to server protocol, you would not NEED to have an account on AIM.

    It looks and sounds to me like that is what AIM wishes to do. In this case, and external entities would take care of validation, and yes, the messages could just be sent into the ether, just like email currently..

    My point is, the jabber protocol itself doesn't care. It simply enforces domains the same way email does. The only reason why transports current require 'logging in' is becouse no other IM system supports the idea of an external server based interface..

    Once the external systems can address an entity as ANYTHING but a user, you would no longer have to login..
  • by Thomas Charron ( 1485 ) <> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @03:03PM (#64003) Homepage
    Beouse of the interest thats been generated in Jabber in this article, I feel the need to point out some resources for more information:

    And of course
  • by Thomas Charron ( 1485 ) <> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @01:05PM (#64004) Homepage

    In the case of Jabber IM, names are simular to DNS, such as The wonderfull thing about this is, in many cases, the thing on the other side can provide many more capabilities then just chatting. The Jabber protocol itself supports a rich set of Info/Query routines, whcih allow other 'things' to happen over the protocol, only limited by the imagination of the developers.

    A perfect example is user database and news tickers. No person there, yet you can interact with them with just another address. And not by sending messages, either, by actually registering with them via a form.. 8-)
  • Last time I checked, icq was a heavily modified IRC.
  • by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <roystgnr&ticam,utexas,edu> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @01:35PM (#64006) Homepage
    it would mean we might have to set up our own Jabber servers to really get the level of service we want

    Frankly, that's absolutely, exactly what we should do. Can anyone imagine how half-assed electronic mail would be if every single person on the internet had to send their messages through one giant datacenter? How about if every single web page on the internet was stored on the single petabyte server at ""? Do you complain that your ISP has to run it's own mail server? Well, why shouldn't it run it's own instant messaging server too? Even if you have a clueless ISP, you can get a free jabber account elsewhere for now.

    This whole "internet" thing was supposed to be a distributed network, you know. I understand why AOL and Microsoft ( don't like that, but I expect even the average Slashdot reader to be a little more clued in.
  • This is a very intelligent move on the part of AOL. Keep in mind that Windows XP is about to ship, and it's going to include MSN Instant Messenger. AOL knows that people are going to adopt MSN Instant Messenger because of the path-of-least-resistance factor (witness the dominance of IE due to its bundling with Windows).

    Why is this important? Because of the interoperability nature of instant messaging.

    Anyone who does IM knows that IM users hang out in packs. You gather together your circle of buddies and you all use the same IM system, because the different systems don't talk to each other. Most groups use AIM, some use ICQ or Yahoo Pager, some use MSN. (I don't use any of them, because all of my buddies hang out on the same BBS [] and we use the instant messenger built into its software.)

    AOL wants to avoid a situation in which an entire group of buddies has to move from AIM to MSN-IM because some or most of them are using MSN-IM. If there's interoperability between systems, AOL gets to keep some of the users.

    This is a very smart move. AOL knows it can't keep all of the users. AOL also knows that you just don't get into a market share war with Microsoft when Microsoft is playing the bundling card.

    I just hope that the interoperability standard is an open one (like e-mail is, with SMTP) and anyone can write a system that ties in ... rather than requiring "peering agreements" that only let the big boys play.
  • If the contact lists were encrypted with the 128bit key or OpenPGP cert, then neither a nor b would be *as* evil. And I can think of a couple of situations where c isn't very workable either. Namely, any situation involving moving to another system without being able to copy over your contact list (theft, loss, just hapen to be @ someone else's house).

    Note that solving a & b, and solving c are not necessarily mutually exclusive. To wit: needing to remember a 128bit key, or carrying around the key or cert with you....might as well carry the contact list around in that event. However, it's still possible to take away some/most of the evilness of a & b (in this case, evilness being defined as "someone else knowing everyone on my contact list"), without resorting to c. You could even go one step further, and, since the contact list would be encrypted anyway, just use the associated encryption as just an "outer envelope".

    Does this mean I get 5 pounds from you?

  • Trillian [] is neat. It would be neater if I could remove the IRC client....
  • Jabber does NOT require you have accounts with every other service. Jabber is actually one of the only services besides Microsoft that can actually support the capability right now to deal with external IM systems.

    Sure you do. How could I, an AIM user, talk to someone on MSN or Yahoo? They need an ID to reply to (and for the message to come from, naturally), so I have to have an account on those systems. Nobody is really doing any true interoperable IMing yet, as far as I know (where I put, say, "" or "" into my ICQ or AIM client's buddy list).

  • I'm still not sure I see where you're going. If I'm logged into AIM, via Jabber, for example -- I've got an AIM account, it's loaded into, and I'm using's aim-t transport to get onto AIM -- then I can talk to other AIM users. They know who I am 'cause I've got an AIM account, and they address their IMs to that account.

    But if I want to talk to someone on Yahoo!, can I do that without having first set up an account on Yahoo? A Yahoo! user couldn't simply talk to, they'd have to have a Yahoo ID to address their IMs to, right? Therefore, I still need a login on Yahoo.

    I saw the discussion on JDEV today about MSIM passing stuff through, and that sounds promising, but you're still limited to MSIM protocols, right? Until you can send a message to an arbitrary address (like aim:tjonesor yahoo:tjones) and have your buddy's client be able to talk back to jabber:tjones, then you'll still need multiple logins.

    So, yes, the external systems care. But if everyone I knew were all on one system, I wouldn't need jabber. So as long as they're on different systems, those systems care, so my jabber client cares, so I care. :(

    Or am I missing something terribly cool?
  • I recently switched from mIRC and ICQ over to Trillian. I also get the added benefit of being able to talk to the few people I know on MSN and AIM. Plus, it works through the firewall at work, since each individual transport can get through. And with Trillian, theres no need to create yet another silly IM network. 4 are enough for me (AIM, ICQ, MSN and Yahoo), so why create more? I can chat, chat in groups, and transfer files. What more do I need? I could care less if Jabber is all XML. I could care less that Oldigo(sp?) has some nifty feature. It's another network, with no purpose.

    And to the comment above about Trillian being too much like an IRC client, turn off advanced mode to hide the huge interface window and get just the buddylist. It potentially may be renamed to IRC mode in the future to keep "advanced" people from turning it on and getting confused by the non IM client look.
  • They don't mind letting other servers become part of their network--but they do want to make sure we all use *their* crappy AIM client, so that we view the ads they want us to see in those little ad windows you can't get rid of.
  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @01:44PM (#64015)
    Not entirely true.

    EA.COM and AOL share a namespace (i.e. your login can be your AIM handle). Majestic uses a custom chat-client that hosts both players and game AI. While it looks similar to AIM, it is not AIM.

  • So so tired of the battle between jabber and aim.

    Pretty soon we will be able to do User Location Queries over jxta [] that spread out just like gnutella file searches do. Centralized instant messsaging servers will be a way of the past, just like how gnutella eclipsed napster.

    I've been thinking about breaking open a java gnutella client [] and hacking it to do simple chat rather then a file transfer, replacing file searches and replies with identity search and replies. All that would really need to be added is certificates to verify people are who they say they are.

    Maybe a decentralized user location plugin for GAIM would do the trick ... hrmmm.

    There is a chat client I found that already does direct peer-to-peer instant messaging, with full encryption. Identities are OpenPGP certificates. Only the decentralized user location is not there- (okay, kinda a big thing) - oh, and its not for linux either. Raxius Express(windows app) []

    Feedback on the whole decentralized user lookup is appreciated.
  • If the uniqueness was found in 128bit keys, or openPGP certificates rather then the domain ... then users wouldn't be attached to a particular server. I don't like losing my contact list when I switch ISPs anyways.
  • CMIIW, but your suggesetion would require one of the following:

    a)Central server holdign everones contact list

    b)A whole bunch of servers carrying everyones contact list ( contact lists freely distributed)

    c)Client stores contact list

    a & b are clearly the work of the devil, and c is what jabber was designed to avoid. The upshot of this:

    You are an idiot, and I claim my 5 pounds.
  • The article appears to be saying that this will be interoperability at the server level which I believe is actually better than having the client know how to talk to multiple different servers.

    Clients like jabber are fine if you don't mind having accounts on every service but why should you need to ? You don't need to have a different email account to send mail to some one at AOL if you have Yahoo so why should I need multiple IM accounts.

    The only reason I have a hotmail account is to chat to other people that use Microsoft IM if I could do that from AOL or Yahoo or something else of my choice it would be great progress and I might acutally use IM a bit more.
  • by Darren.Moffat ( 24713 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:52PM (#64020)
    The IETF is already working on it: tm l

  • Anyway, who the hell cares? Two lame proprietary technologies duking it out. Let them fight. I'll wait for the IETF standard. Until then, IRC and E-mail will get me by.

    Kinda like IE and Netscape? Unfortunately, the standards bodies take too long. By the time something is decided, MSN/AIM will have the whole thing even more locked up than it is now.

    I agree with the sentiment: open protocols (without proprietary extensions that prevent inter-operability) work best. But only if they are there from the beginning.

    As far as the IM issue: I don't use 'em at all. I prefer to talk in person.

  • BTDT, have the wedding ring and child to show for it.

    Much gas was used, and many homework assignments skipped. And yes, IM was used.

    But in the long run, F2F was more important and worth the bucks/time.

  • by jmauro ( 32523 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @01:10PM (#64023)
    It was only a requirement if the messaging service was extended to other area's like voice messaging or video messaging. Other than that they can keep it as locked up as they want.
  • Tried connecting to the URL you gave, and got this:
    System Error: We're sorry, but the browser you are currently running is not compatible with
    Of course, I'm running Mozilla. I love sites that can't even handle the most basic of Internet standards.... Sigh.

    Aaron Sherman (
  • I'm suprized that this has never been brought up, but why not IRC? IRC is a rfc standard, IIRC. IRC has been around for eons and eons. It handls message routing, distributed servers, and it has withstood the test of time. (Although there are some abusers, a la efnet's trouble's)

    The only difference between IRC and IM is that IM favors a one-to-one model, and IRC favors a Room-based model. But AOLIM has chat rooms where multiple people can be in. On the other hand, IRC has /query, or /msg user message, etc.

    Why on earth hasn't IRC emerged as the chat standard?

  • Jarl was the first I did check out, it actually works fairly well, though a little heavy on startup.

    It's just like the browser problem, anyone can write something to parse some HTML, but getting a system as featured as Netscape (WITHOUT the crashing) takes time and effort.

    I think jabber will see more use in the future from embedded systems and things of that nature

    Time will tell

  • by Oxide Maker ( 99549 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:42PM (#64036)
    Gaim logs to AOL, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, and IRC together. It's one of the sweetest things I have ever seen for linux.

    Makes me wonder if the gaim folks got any permitions from all these to clone them.
  • by bartok ( 111886 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:41PM (#64043)
    Personally, I think all ISPs shoud host a Jabber server and give away a custom Jabber client to their subscribers. Why this is not a part of every ISP's "internet connection kit" is beyond me. You put the CD in, it dials to the ISP, installs a browser, mail client and Jabber client and you already have a working account on your ISP's server just like POP3.
  • ...Everyone should use Jabber I think...

    It's a Catch-22. I can't use Jabber in favor of AIM until all of my contacts on AIM also use it. And they can't start using Jabber until all of their contacts (for example, me) stop using AIM.

    I'm making an incremental switch. Now that I found an obscure Jabber aim-t that AOL is not noticing enough to bother to block, Jabber is starting to work better for me (on Windows, non-the-less)

    I'd love to see everyone use Jabber too, but not everyone wants to either take the trouble to do what I've done or give up on their AIM-only contacts all together.

  • As I said in my original post, AOL tends to block the major Jabber servers' aim-t's (AIM transports). Because of that, I'm forced to find obscure servers whose aim-t's are less likely to be blocked. All-in-all, it makes using AIM throuh Jabber a painful experience -- just anothe rbarrier to keep AIM'ers from switching.
  • by Trinition ( 114758 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:42PM (#64047) Homepage
    The new game, Majestic [], uses AIM. Perhaps that is going to be AOL's example of interoperability. While the game sounds cool I certainly no one hopes to say that will count as being non-monopolistic.
  • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @01:11PM (#64048)
    There was originally some discussion of making this a requirement, which is where some people seem to have gotten their misinformation, however in the end it was not made into a requirement. It is, however, a requirement if they expand IM service to do new things (deliver multimedia, for example).

    While AOL may or may not have plans to expand the service at the moment, they probably want to keep their options open. By adding interoperability now, they can add new features to their service at any time.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • I was about to post the protocol, except the front part of the protocol states what you state and, of course, the lameness filter prevents it from being posted. GPLed fucking document, fuck slashdot.

    I don't know what you mean about featureless chatrooms, you mean the lack of advertising? That's a bad thing?

    Clients using TOC haven't had any problems. Clients using OSCAR are begging to be dicked.

    ICQ 77863057
  • by Lord Omlette ( 124579 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @02:09PM (#64053) Homepage
    Oh but it is, my friend, it is. You see, Jabber tried to use OSCAR, which AOL has said repeatedly is an internal to AOL protocol. Meanwhile Trillian uses TOC, which is the publicly documented protocol that AOL encourages everyone to use. You'll notice that Trillian, TiK, Net::AIM, and others never have a problem, because AOL is glad that they follow the rules and content to leave them alone.

    ICQ 77863057
  • Last time I checked, icq was a heavily modified IRC.
    The first couple of points I could come up with why using IRC as the basis for an IM system would be a bad idea:
    • IRC doesn't have a standard system for registering nicknames. Nevermind a system that stores names, sex, birthday, e-mail, location, homepage, etc. These systems (say NickServ) also tend to be offline a lot.
    • You don't want nick (ID) changes on an IM system
    • You thought netsplits on IRC were annoying
    • No offline messages unless using some sort of bot, but these tend to be offline a lot
    • Most messages would have to be sent via DCC to make it more scalable. Makes using IRC kinda pointless
    • IRC channels functionality would only be used for group chats (and how many people do that anyway), why use IRC then? (note that IRC channels are very different from ICQ groups)
  • by stain ain ( 151381 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:44PM (#64055)
    What someone should do is create a standard, so anyone could use whatever software conforms to the standard with whatever server is ready for it.
    I'd rather prefer the IETF working on that kind of things than the oh-so-powerful AOL deciding who (MSN?) do they allow to be compatible.
    Still, even if it is not what I'd prefer, it is nice to see I will not need MSN + ICQ to be able to chat with my friends on the two sides in the close future.
  • IM will go from "Instant" to "Really Fast."

    Really Fast Messaging, aka RFM. That would be a confusingly funny acronym.

  • Can anybody give a reason why I'm wrong?

    Yes [].

    (That story is titled, "MS, CNET On 7-Day Messenger Outage [].")

    Of course, if something like that never happens again, then maybe people won't switch, but if MSN locks out people from their chat like that again, people will hunt for alternatives.

    (Not to mention that IM already has a captive userbase. I got an IM account to keep in touch with people at the college I go to, as well as people from highschool, and my family members. If everyone else uses IM, why use anything else?)

    (And a sidenote to Jabber fans: I tried to get people to switch to it for a while, but finally gave up after two months. Yeah, I know, I like Jabber too, but if I can't get my contacts to switch, I can't switch. So it's AIM I use - because that's the IM service that anyone I'd instant message uses.)


  • Why is everyone trying to use AOL's IM? It is just email with a different interface. So.....just create a different interface for emails that are flagged as "IM_AN_INSTANT_MESSAGE", so the messages aren't saved and the text is just displayed in a window.

    We don't need another damn marketing protocol...
  • With an address like

    unsurprisingly close to
    hence, it uses the same system of unique ids (DNS) already in place.

  • by wsdorsey ( 179663 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:42PM (#64066) Homepage

    Yeah, jabber would be nice if it actually worked consistantly... Unfortunatly it's hit or miss as to which services it will decide to connect to on any given day.


  • Ok so Im a dork for replying to my own post but heres more clarification on the mandatory opening of AOL's unified IM system:

    Instant messaging: The commission requires AOL Time Warner to guarantee interoperability in its IM services before offering "advanced IM-based high-speed services," such as videoconferencing. The condition does not affect AOL's current AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ services but will affect expected future applications that take advantage of broadband Internet access.

    The company may guarantee this by implementing an interoperability standard established by a recognized group such as the Internet Engineering Task Force, or by entering into interoperability contracts with competitors. AOL Time Warner can also seek to have the condition lifted if market conditions dramatically change.

    So it looks like we may be heading for an RFC on this after all, but the timline is at best vague. AOL will of course keep itself closed as long as possible, especially since XP will integrate the MSN client into the desktop (sigh) and draw most of us deeper into Bills Clutches. The info was gleaned from CNET, which lists ALL of the provisions of the merger if you're interested: 75 68.html

  • by jgaynor ( 205453 ) <> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:50PM (#64071) Homepage

    That the opening of their Instant Messenging servers/protocol was a condition of the merger?

    The merger still faces scrutiny by the Federal Communications Commission, but experts predict that is a much lower hurdle for the companies to overcome. Among the issues the FCC is likely to consider is whether AOL Time Warner will open its popular Instant Messaging system -- which allows PC users to send pop-up messages to friends over the Internet -- to rivals such as Microsoft. "AOL, in theory, has open-access to the instant messaging service today, but just under terms that they dictate," said Scott Reamer, Internet analyst with SG Cowen. "Perhaps the FCC will engender AOL to create terms that are more amenable to competitors, accessing the instant messaging system."

    Later this point became a REQUIREMENT of the merger.

    The original story on CNNfn can be found here: ne r/

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:59PM (#64075) Homepage Journal
    It'll probably work in some fashion which makes it painfully obvious that you are still, whatever ISP you have, going through and using AOL stuff. Who knows, probably have some kind of built in pop-up ads to plug AOL's business partners. Think that's evil? Microsoft would do it the same way and just as grudgingly.

    Probably not the Good Thing© that MSN (the always objective mouthpiece of the Peoples Republic of Redmond) would have you believe. Particularly after the recent battles with AOL over desktop space. Look for Microsoft to say something along these lines, down the road: "Aw, gee, gosh. It's not really all that great so we decided that for the good of people everywhere (who will really want this anyway, since we know what's best for them and they trust us) we'll just circumvent it and establish the Microsoft Standard Immediate Messenger©, complete with Shared Source©"

    I suggest we build the missiles Bush wants and aim (no pun intended) them at Herndon VA and Redmond WA.

    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • If you use Jabber just to talk to your AIM buddies, then you are defeating the whole purpose of the Jabber system. You're right, you might as well just use Trillian or Everybuddy.

    Jabber, on the other hand, is an IM system. "Transports" allow you to communicate with other IM systems through Jabber, which can aid you in talking with your old buddies. However, the main reason to make the switch to Jabber is because it is a distributed network with an open protocol just like all other important Internet protocols. WWW is open, E-mail is open. Shouldn't IM be also?

    By itself, Jabber is a decentralized network that operates almost exactly the same way e-mail does. Who cares about AOL and these other services? Dump AIM. Dump ICQ. Dump it all. Use transports like training wheels, but remember Jabber is where the future is. It is the way IM should have been all along. Grab a client at and get involved.

    Psi [] - ICQ-style Jabber client.
  • Yes, the current system works, but it is not ideal. I don't hate Microsoft or AOL. They have done a great job in promoting IM. There's nothing wrong with using these systems either. The problem I have with their systems, as do all other Jabber developers, is that we think we can make a better one.

    We don't consider Jabber a YAIMS (yet-another-IM-system). Odigo is YAIMS. What makes Jabber unique is the open/distributed nature. It's the only IM protocol that has a snowball's chance at being accepted as an RFC standard. Maybe one day in the future, ISP's will give you a free Jabber account along with your POP3 email. They can't do this with AIM or MSN or even ICQ, and none of these systems have such aspirations. We're trying to change the world here. It may be a longshot, but we can dream can't we?

    Please don't discount Jabber just because it is not entirely ready for prime time. We're working on it!

    Psi [] - ICQ-like Jabber client
  • by infiniti99 ( 219973 ) <> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @05:01PM (#64079) Homepage
    Obviously you don't seem to have a problem with the fact that ICQ, MSN, and AIM are all closed systems with a central server. You can throw Odigo in there while you're at it. Each of these systems are against the original spirit of core Internet protocols, which is to be open and distributed.

    Jabber is has created an open _decentralized_ standard, something you will never see coming from any of these other companies. Maybe you don't care that all of your conversation and personal data goes through these central systems? Maybe you don't mind the single point of failure in these systems? Will you be using MS Passport too?

    It's all a matter of what you care about. A lot of people are content with "what works." For others, that's not enough.
  • AOL is playing two sides of a dangerous game. THey are required to open up to other servers before using advanced media technologies in their IM, according to the FCC's restrictions...

    But they are trying to shirk that work and actually close things off while pretending to be open. This is dangerous for them. Quite frankly I would like them to see them stay closed. It would give more impetus to Jabber... Imagine while MSN and AOL are fighting hard, we could be slowly growing a much more deadly user base on an open source project...

    Sig: Tell all your friends NOT to download the Advanced Ebook Processor:

  • it's interesting to see a sudden interest in "interoperability."

    This isn't a sudden interest. In fact, it's not an interest at all. For those who don't recall, this interoperability is a requirement of AOL's merger with Time-Warner. The FTC made it a requirement, supposedly to help prevent abuse of monopoly in the future.

  • My ISP is RoadRunner. As in AOL/Time-Warner RoadRunner. I'd rather not use any IM Client's they give me ;)
  • Actually, all I use is thier DNS. I use my own mail server. That's the great thing about RR; you don't have to authenticate, you can use any mail server, you can easily set up a LAN and share the connection, and on a good day I get +2Mb.

    now, the minute they start telling me I need to use anything related to AOL, is the minute I call up the local Telco to get DSL, adn DirecTV to get DSS (unless I get a job working for the LA Times, in which case I'll already have both cable and DSS)

  • by reynaert ( 264437 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:44PM (#64087)

    I'm always suprised how little support the Jabber [] project is getting. They've done some fantastic things there.

    The Jabber system can communicate with almost every IM system out there (ICQ, MSN, etc.) There's even IRC support.

    Also, the whole thing is completely cross-platform. There are even clients for handhelds ( []).

    And do I have to mention it's entirily GPL?

  • by reynaert ( 264437 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:48PM (#64088)
    It's not GPL. It use it's own Jabber Open Source License []. At least it's approved by the Open Source Initiative.
  • 'AOL said that it's almost done developing the technology that would allow its messaging services to operate with those offered by other industry players.'

    Well, maybe they don't know it, but they must already be done, because Trillian [] connects to their servers. It's not open source, but it does connect w/ AIM, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, and IRC. Additionally, whatever services you don't use, you can modifiy an .ini file so as to not use the .dll for that service...decreasing the already low memory usage of the application. And the multitude of skins [] kick ass.

    I tried Jabber [], but didn't find any projects that were currently connecting to AIM or that were as far along as Trillian for that matter.
  • It's the Associated Press.
  • I believe the merger conditions didn't require that AOL open their IM system. I think they required that *if* AOL introduced multimedia (e.g. streaming video) features linked to AIM, they would then be required to *either* connect AIM to another competing proprietary IM service (they could still keep their network "closed") *or* open up their protocol.
  • by pgpckt ( 312866 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @12:46PM (#64099) Homepage Journal
    There has got to be a half dozen programs out there that offer a variety of different services. I use ICQ (unfortunately now owned by AOL (*sigh*)) because I consider it to be a more powerful client. Like it or not, AOL is the industry leader. If AOL can develop a protocol that everyone else can follow, that's a good thing. AOL is worried about lag time over the net, but I don't see this as a problem...IM will go from "Instant" to "Really Fast." There is also the worry about Spam. If AOL makes this a standard, then people should be able to modify the standard to resist any type of spamming problems.

    The thing that makes me breath a little easier is that AOL has to do it right, because this is something AOL customers want the ability to do. AOL would like to get everyone else using AOL products, but now that that is an impossibility due to the limits the FCC placed on AOL, and AOL will have to make a product that AOL customers will be able to interact with (I hope). I do not understand AOL's apprehension to a unified standard...AOL has benefited from open email as much as anyone, and if AOL offers a superior product, people will want to use their IM client.

    We shall see if this AOL offering becomes everything I know the community wants it to become.

  • Does this mean that now my buddy list is going to have a whole bunch of names proceeded by AOL, MSN, ICQ, etc? Take my nick for instance, will it be AIM-Uttles rather than just Uttles?

    I think this is really cool if they ever get it to work, but I do wonder exactly why AOL is suddenly interested in this, and I wonder if Yahoo, MSN, and others will share the interest.

    On the other hand, it's about time "chatting" was standardized just like internet browsing, file transfer, telnet, email, etc. When you think about it, the single "backbone" and multiple client scheme is the way most things on the internet should operate.
  • an excuse to use something other than AIM to talk to friends.

    ICQ is a good client... MSN better, imho... but both are just such memory hogs supporting crappy organizations. *cough*evil*cough*

    Clients like Odigo [] already communicate on all the current IM servers, and it's nice to see they'll stay.

    Icq... 30 MB memory... bitch...

    Screw 3...

  • Two different depts at AOL are at work here. One is the legal dept trying to make sure that current policy of only authorized clients use the service. The engineering dept, being separate from legal, are the ones developing specs for an interoperable network. Until that interoperable network is ready, legal will continue to go after unauthorized clients. Because legal realizes their days of going after third-party clients are numbered, they are making sure that they prove to the company that they continued to do their job despite pending changes, hence many employees in legal will have a case when it comes time for promotions, dept budget, etc.
  • ...but who cares? Everyone should use Jabber I think. Spread it to the Windows world too! Why let huge corporations like AOL or M$ control our messaging

  • They actually been intregrating ICQ with AIM for a while now. Last I checked (months ago) you could log onto the ICQ network via the AIM client by using your UIN as a screenname. (You could only see ICQ users though..not AIM users.) Eventually they want to completely merge the two networks so you could see both AIM and ICQ users on the same client.

  • by catbutt ( 469582 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @02:08PM (#64117)
    Why not just base it on your email address? I mean, everyone already has a unique identifier which is their email address. You still need some sort of DNS-like system to connect email addresses to clients, but that shouldn't be so hard to pull off. Jabber seemed to attempt something like this, but it makes the assumption that the domain you have an email address at has a jabber server.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong